Negative Cost Office Depot Mastercard Deal: Scalable & One of the Best Deals of the Year!


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Office Depot Mastercard Promotion

Earlier this morning Danny posted about Office Depot’s unadvertised in-store gift card deal. (You can find the sign and full terms in that post.) On the surface this looks like a good deal, but the truth is that it is the best deal we have seen in awhile. Let’s take a look.

The Offer

Save $10 instantly when you buy $50 or more in these select gift cards (limit 2):

  • Mastercard
  • Toys ‘R’ Us
  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • Groupon
  • Fandango
  • Catherines

It’s All About the Options

Most of those gift cards are not worth getting excited about, but then there are those first two options. Soooooo good. First off, the best way to maximize any deal at an office supply store is to use a Chase Ink Cash/Plus card or an Amex SimplyCash Plus card. These earn 5X/5% back.

Mastercard Option

The first and perhaps most lucrative option is to purchase a single $100 Mastercard gift card for $105.95. Laptop Travel has confirmed that the purchase of a single card WILL TRIGGER a $20 discount. This means you will make $14.05 for each $100 Mastercard purchased. If you use a Chase Ink Plus/Cash card to pay, you will also earn 430 points! Not bad.

You can also purchase a $200 gift card for $206.95. Basically you pay $1 more in fees, however you will earn an additional 500 points which more than offset that. If you have an unlimited ability to liquidate cards then this is probably better, but either option is great.

Toys ‘R Us Option

Not everyone wants to deal with Mastercard gift cards. I get it. Thankfully there is another option. You could instead purchase a $100 Toys ‘R Us gift card for $80! This will earn you 400 points plus you can sell these cards for 80-85% of face value depending on your bulk relationships. Not as lucrative as the Mastercard option, but still profitable.

The Hybrid Super Option

As Laptop Travel points out, one final option is to combine the first two.

  • Purchase a $100 Mastercard gift card
  • Use that Mastercard to pay for a $120 Toys ‘R Us gift card which will cost $100 after the instant $20 discount.

Note: You could also buy another Mastercard with the first Mastercard, but this can get messy since you will need to split payment. Additionally most cashiers will not let you use a gift card to purchase a Mastercard gift card.

This option can make you a bit more money, but it also has the very nice side effect of liquidating the Mastercard. If you have a friendly cashier who is willing to do multiple transactions, this is a great option. Here is how the math would work out if you could do this and sell the Toys ‘R Us cards for 85%.

  • Buy Mastercard: $14.05 profit + 430 points
  • Buy Toys ‘R Us with Mastercard & sell @85%: $2 profit ($120*.85-100)

In the end you solve your liquidation problem and profit $16.05 + points. Not bad.

Which Option to Choose

Personally I would probably just choose to purchase as many $100 Mastercard gift cards as possible and find a different way to liquidate them. While the combined option is nice, it requires multiple transactions and relies on the cashier not questioning your use of a gift card. Additionally, I would rather use those extra transactions to purchase more Mastercards since I am making $14.05 + points each time.


Given the ability to scale this over multiple transactions/stores if allowed, this is a fantastic deal and one of the better ones we have seen this year. I suspect many of you will be generating a lot of profit and points over the next couple of weeks!

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  1. Just out of curiosity, why does OD do these unadvertised specials? I thought the point of a special is to get people to come into the store – but if you don’t advertise it, how will people know about it?

    • At the same time, I rather they didn’t. I was happy my location was stocked, so I’ll be heading back everyday (not exactly efficient) but I rather not draw additional eyes and people going in and clearing out a store.

      It’s not really so much us sharing the deals, but rather ppl getting greedy swooping all the stock in one go.

      • I understand that, but I am just trying to understand the business perspective of OD. What is the point of putting on sale items that are intended to get people to come into the store and then not advertise it?

  2. It seems that buying $100 MC is more lucrative than $200 MC. On $100 purchase, you are getting $14.05 of free money + 430 points. Two separate transactions will result in $28.10 of free money + 860 points. If buying $200 MC, you get $13.05 of free money + 935 points. The only reason to do $200 is to get more points quicker, but you lose cash. Is my understanding correct or am I missing something? Thank you.

  3. Yev, your understanding is correct, but it’s quicker to buy the $200 cards, than draw attention to yourself checking out multiple times with the $100 cards.

  4. At our local OD the managers know us pretty well (we do commercial business with them all) and the manager at one told us yesterday “I am happy if you want to buy multiples…after all corporate knew when they did this that there would be a rush on the stores and I have to trust they have figured out the math. Whether you buy 10 or ten people buy 1 each they’re basically gone…or going. The people coming in just to buy one and leave add nothing my operation here; but you are a regular customer, so I have no problem.”

    On a side note we are getting people checking in with us from all over the country with their experience datapoints. Some are being told ‘cash only’ which is 100% totally WRONG! Others are being told a limit of one transaction, some two.

    And then….we have reports of as many as 15 separate transactions in a single visit.

    For us, we have 4 stores in market; and have been able to do a maximum of 10 separate transactions in a single store visit w/ $200 variable load MCGC’s

    That math looks like this:

    10 X $ 186.95 = $1,869.50
    Face Value of Cards: $2,000
    Ultimate Rewards: 9,348 (Value of $158.92)
    Net Cash Profit: $130.50

    Net Profit (Points + Cash) = $289.42

    15.48% Return on $1,869.50

    We have some crazy strategies to leverage (and perhaps, in some scenarios, ELIMINATING the need to liquidate through MO’s on our blog’s second -advanced post)

    • Why are you doing a variable at 113.05? I see you are getting it to 120 but I thought over 100 got you the 20 dollars…. why do a variable for 100?

      • Bryan – Otherwise you would end up with two MCGC’s you would have to liquidate. Getting the second card at $113.05 (plus $6.95 fee) minus the $20 rebate costs $100 (the face value of your first MCGC. And you have maximized the value on the second card (now worth $113.05) and the first card is 100% drained and toss it away!

        • Any issues from cashier with using gift card to buy gift card? Can you literally do it back to back or do you need to wait a few minutes for the 1st card to register?

        • If capital isn’t a issue isn’t the 200 MasterCard the better idea? I understand % rate of return is lower but overall better return in dollar terms. Also the extra UR can be sent to reserve for 1.5x on travel…

          • Bryan –
            We agree, for our purposes.
            Everyone has their own comfort level, goals and strategies.
            Personally, you can see our strategy outlined in great detail a few comments above (with the math included.)

            In no way should someone attempt to do the ‘double-dip’ back to back! That could get you banned from a specific store; it is not worth the laziness to visit another store later in the same (or following) day

          • Will they let you use a gift card to buy a gift card? Or block you?

            Can you just keep rolling upwards based on your model by 13.05?

            So on and so forth?

  5. Looks like OD/OM killed the deal. When I visited OD this morning, the signs that advertised the deal were removed.


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